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Reader Q & A: Help! My best friend is driving me crazy!

Might it be time to call it quits?

QUESTION:

My best friend is
finally dumping her jerk husband of more than a decade and I’m glad about that but it’s
all wearing me to a nub.

Her frenzied dating is making me nuts. She talks about her boyfriends
constantly, and about how many men are chasing her. She is convinced her life
will be right back on track when she has a boyfriend, even though the divorce
isn’t even final yet.

She’s really into psychotherapy which I hope might help her. I think she needs to stabilize before she gets involved with anyone but who am
I to say? I don’t know how to be supportive, honest, and not make my tongue
bleed by biting it all at the same time.

I used to think that when she finally got away from her husband, who was
emotionally abusive, she would grow into the woman she could be and our
friendship would deepen. Now I just don’t know. I’m feeling distant from her
and irritated.

Please help!
Anonymous

 

ANSWER:

Dear Anonymous:

Sounds like you’ve had a
hard time supporting your BFF’s choices almost as long as you’ve known her but
you deluded yourself into thinking her rotten choice of mate was
circumstantial: that she simply picked the wrong guy and had a hard time
getting out of it.

In large part, people choose their circumstances, and if they don’t because
they’ve fallen into them by mistake, they do have the free will to change them.
Eighteen years of abuse must have eroded your friend’s self-esteem completely.
What half-normal person would put up with all that stuff for that long?

 

Admittedly, this is probably a very difficult time for your BFF. She must worry
about whether she will eventually land on the ground with both feet
standing—and you may be wondering the same thing about her too!

Being indiscriminately “boy-crazy” diverts a woman from thinking about their own
life (How do I know? Been there, done that
J).
Her interest in psychotherapy suggests that on some level, she would like to find
her true self.

But let’s get back to you. It’s impossible to support a friend when you
consistently don’t support her choices, unless she has other qualities that
outweigh the negative ones. The value of every female friendship is determined
by how well it meets our needs—I like to call this the concept of
reciprocity. Friendships usually work when two friends feel like they are
giving each other more—or at least as much—as they are getting. Sounds like
this one isn’t working for you.

In this circumstance, what are your choices? You can leave things as they are
and bite your tongue (but I think you are having a problem doing that or you
wouldn’t have written to me). You can tell her things she isn’t ready to hear.
Or there is one more approach that I think is the most prudent. I suggest that
you take a friendship sabbatical.

 

You need to step back and give your friend
time to work things out—and you need to give yourself time to think about
whether the friendship is worth the angst. You can tell your friend that you
need some time and space for yourself but you really care about her and what
she is going through. In the meantime, spend more time with other friends and
see if they can fill the deficit. Let me know what you decide and how it goes.

 

Best, Irene

 

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Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It sounds like you’re friend is not acknowleging or “hearing” what you are saying which is a dysfunction she alone has to fix. It may be a good idea for you to have a talk with her, using “I feeL’ statements and if she dismisses you then you know this behaviour will never change.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m just wondering if I can get some advice on this topic. My Best Friend of some years seems to be progressively becoming co-dependant of my time. She has lived in another state for a few years now so we see each other on average every 3 months, but we talk almost daily, multiple times a day via phone, text and aim. I live with my fiancé (newly engaged) and even though I will have taken time to talk to her already on any given day, If I’m not readily available to answer a text once I’m home and spending time with the Mr. she throws a hissy fit and tells me I’m not the same to her anymore or that I’m neglectful. My fiancé and I went to go visit her and her hubby for the holidays and she got very angry that I wasn’t coming into town for a couple days before my fiancé arrived so that we had “girl time” when my fiancé was the one purchasing the plane tickets so that I could see her in the first place. Lately every time I talk to her she requires me to tell her “sweet nothings” constantly, and I mean during the conversation she will say multiple times “I miss you, I cant wait to see you, do you miss me? I wish I could just be there with you, I wish you weren’t getting married, All my plans for us are ruined now..” and so on. When these statements aren’t acknowledged and reciprocated she gets upset and tells me I’ve changed and alludes to the fact that I need to “change back”. To me life is all about change, people grow, they move, they build lives for themselves and to me, a true friend is one that can be happy for you and be there to watch you go through these changes, be there when needed and give space when appropriate and still pick up right where you left off without a guilt trip or constant nagging. Every conversation lately is an invitation for her to complain about life’s circumstances and I find it completely draining of my energy, I don’t understand why she cant focus on the positive and not create a negative. There are FAR too many instances of this demanding behavior from her, Its never abt money, its always emotional. There is another friend of mine that I haven’t talked to in over a yr that has been reaching out to me and my best friend (mentioned above) has openly become very jealous, she has flat out told me that it bothers her and that she doesn’t like it at all in any way. This seems completely ridiculous to me. I finally got to the point where I told her I needed a few weeks to myself. After saying that to her I’ve been told that I don’t reciprocate the loyalty that she has shown me in the past, that I’m not a good friend, that I’m one sided, that I’m selfish and that I’ve ruined her life. I’ve tried to explain that her approach to my engagement is not acceptable, and that there needs to be boundaries. She insists on telling me that the only reason I feel the way I do is because my relationship is new, but that I will be back to “normal” one day. I don’t believe that this is true at all. I believe that your significant other should always come first and I mean that for her marriage as well (which has been dysfunctional for as long as they have been together). Instead of acknowledging the root cause of my concern at all she is focusing on past instances where she has been supportive of me, throwing them in my face and trying to make me feel as though I have not given her the same consideration. The whole thing just seems to be completely dysfunctional for me and I’m not sure how to fix it. Any advice would be great.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Dear Irene,
    I agree entirely to your response for anonymous and the erroding relationship with her best friend.
    I have never heard of the reasons of female friendship and reciprocity. Sounds about right though.
    I had a divorce as well, but I tried limiting most of my divorce drama and was somewhat secretive about my post dating experiences to my friends. You have to give yourself and your friends some time.

    After I remarried and started new, I had a friend who drove me crazy about her marriage. She constantly asked questions about my divorce, or if she should she leave her husband. Later the endless stories about cheating and a boyfriend at work. It grew worse and worse everyday. After a while if I agreed to meet her for a drink, she would talk for two hours about herself and not a single thing about her daughter or a question was asked in my regard. She also did the same to other friends. They all grew tired of it. Suddenly after two years of this she announces she is staying with her husband. I muttered, well then, good luck and hung up the phone. I really could have cared less at that point. My attitude was that she was a liar to me then. I guess she loves her husband after cheating and boyfriends? Maybe a sabbatical would have preserved our friendship.

    Also any advice for a friend who’s not too hot with her husband or mine? Love her to death but she tends to stick her husband in a corner somewhere and drag me into an all girls conversation.
    She leads a dinner for four into a girls chat accross the room. I noticed she never brings anything into conversations about her husband. She has been married for three years….her husband is a good guy. I get the feeling maybe money is an issue. I get irritated by her behavior so I have stepped up friendships with women who include thier husbands more. I don’t mind meeting her out alone sometimes. She’s very hardworking, intelligent and fun, but I feel the friendship slipping away.
    Seems like my single friends also want me to themselves and no husbands are included. Any advice would be appreciated.

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